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On Friday, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) applauded the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for announcing  nine conservation district-led projects as part of this year’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awards.

First authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and expanded under the 2018 Farm Bill, RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative conservation projects to improve water quality and quantity, soil health and wildlife habitat. Project leaders work with private landowners and producers to implement conservation practices depending on the challenges of their local landscape.

“Conservation districts have led the charge in RCPP projects since the program’s inception,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “Their local knowledge, expertise and relationships with producers, ranchers and landowners makes them an ideal partner to lead innovative solutions to natural resource challenges.”

Yesterday’s RCPP announcement consists of $206 million in funding for 48 projects across 29 states. Conservation districts are listed as the lead partner in nine: Polk Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Ore.; Clark Conservation District, Wash.; Gilliam SWCD, Ore.; San Rafael Conservation District, Utah; New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, N.M.; San Juan SWCD, N.M.; Minnehaha Conservation District, S.D.; Barry Conservation District, Mich.; and Berks County Conservation District, Pa.

Polk SWCD in Oregon plans to enhance and restore oak habitat on private lands, create habitat corridors to facilitate wildlife travel, and work with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde to acquire conserved tribal ancestral lands through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Fund.

In Pennsylvania, Berks County CD’s RCPP project will work to improve water quality within the Chesapeake Bay watershed by implementing comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMP) and establishing conservation practices near streams such as riparian buffers, filter strips and animal exclusion fencing.

“NACD is proud of all the conservation districts not only named as lead partners for RCPP this year, but also those that continue to work in partnership with their local collaborators to implement conservation through existing RCPP projects,” Palmer said. “Together, we’re all working to advance conservation practices across America’s landscapes.”

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